NEW YORK - Stand up comedy is thriving, as Caroline Hirsch and the club the bears her name have been a New York institution for 35 years.
"When I started out, it was just learning by the seat of my pants," she said. "Going into a business that I just invested some dollars in, and then all of the sudden, it was named after me. And I took this real great interest in it, and I wanted it to work."
Tracy Morgan started performing there before fame came, and it's where he came back to perform after he survived a near fatal accident. We met him at Carolines in 2015 and heard him say, there "was a time in my life right after the accident when I didn't think I was ever gonna be here again."
"Right now at Carolines, there must be thousands of comics that come through the door here each year," she said. "And thousands, I'm not kidding about it, because the business has grown so much."
Hirsch has nurtured so many comedians she's often called 'The Mother Hen' of comedy, and she said her compassion began at an early age in Flatbush when she had to help raise two disabled brothers. It is that self-sufficiency which has helped her club become a fixture in Times Square and part of a renaissance of stand-up comedy.
"This is such a rich, rich art right now," she said. "Between social media, between cable, between streaming, I mean, comedy is the thing."
Proof of what she's saying just came on Instagram. Kevin Hart posted an old performance at Carolines showing him at 19 and asking, "where does the time go?"
"I moved to this neighborhood 25 years ago, and I said, 'oh, no, no, this is happening here,'" she said. "'This is really going to happen,' and it did."